Go North Tent, Saturday 10pm

Eschewing the option of closing the weekend in the natural habitat of the Clash Arena and the thumping relentlessness of Underworld, a select few ventured to the back reaches of the site to the Go North Bollywood tent – a humble nook mostly undiscovered by the masses – for their final headliner, the inimitable Cage The Elephant.

Clash turned up to the tent just prior to their set, and met them backstage to catch up before their big moment. The newly-sheared vocalist Matt Shultz was almost unrecognisable – his clean crop the polar opposite of his former long lank do – but his energy and uncontainable recklessness was still as vivid as ever (at one point trying to pierce a Clash pin badge through his nipple). The others attempted to drain most of the area of its beer before they took to the stage.

When first they did, the gathered audience was frankly embarrassing – a pitiful handful of people lined at the rail, perched over in curiosity, angling for a look of this fabled Kentucky lot. Obviously the other headliners were proving more of a draw. As they continued to storm the stage though, the contagious force from both the quintet on stage and the absolutely stunned crowd somehow spread further through the fields as more people squeezed in to the intimate tent.

Leaping from the stage, Matt – wearing only a thin patterned dress (with his, er, ‘bits’ hanging out underneath) – dived into those amassed and continued to scream in their faces, writhing around on the ground, and never easing up on the intensity as matched by his brother Brad on guitar and the other Elephants. Their balls-to-the-wall rock ‘n’ roll is a joyous trip through adolescence, where sex, drugs, booze and loud guitars are the order of the day – and is a fucking brilliant way to complete the weekend.

Nowhere else was anybody scaling the amps, pushing each other around, heaving themselves up the tent’s poles (Matt thankfully now wearing black boxers to save any more obscenities) or generally having so much FUN that they forgot about trying to win a festival crowd over and just did what they usually do and explode.

The better known tunes obviously slay the crowd – ‘In One Ear’ is what they’ve been waiting for – and the hook-laden crunchers (‘Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked’ and ‘Lotus’) are a sucker punch to the chops to anyone who wasn’t won over already. Those who accompanied Clash to check Cage The Elephant out are STILL talking about how good they were the next morning, and word continues to spread.

If you’re heading out to a festival this summer make it an essential point to catch Cage The Elephant there – even if it means missing the big headliner. You won’t regret it!

View the accompanying gallery of Cage The Elephant at Rockness

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